What images come to mind if someone were to ask, “you’re not from around here, are you?”
A Wild West saloon?
A local dive bar?
A scene from Indiana Jones?
Okay, so that last one may be just us. But that phrase represents the classic one-liner used in both movies and real life to distinguish us versus them. Known versus unknown. Locals versus outsiders.
Is that how your business is treating out-of-town guests to the tasting room? Recently a friend of Market Your Craft visited Oklahoma City for work. One night he decided to hit a local brewery for dinner and a beer. Like most, he did a quick search for “breweries near me” and came up with 15 options, all practically within walking distance of his hotel. After a deeper dive he found very little to differentiate the breweries on the list, causing him to pick one of the closest out of convenience.
The same question applies to tasting rooms in or around your area: do you want to compete just on convenience, or something more?
The conversation prompted us to put together a checklist for craft beverage producers to do a quick audit of their marketing tactics. With temperatures rising, travel increasing and states lifting mask requirements, the time is right for breweries, wineries, distilleries, kombucharies, cideries and other tasting rooms to be as welcoming to new customers as possible. Treat the list below as a common-sense approach to driving traffic, building engagement and capturing new sales – the three pillars for building a sustainable craft beverage business. Then consider how each has been impacted by COVID-19, and whether it will change as we move from pandemic to endemic/ongoing status.
are you driving traffic
Our goal is for you to attract 3 NEW CUSTOMERS for every current one. With so many choices, drinkers are browsing brands digitally before taking action. We call this important step discovery and your website, search engine ranking and public relations efforts all play an important part:
- The homepage helps visitors understand who you are and what you offer, with little or no scrolling.
- Visitors are guided in a structured way if they choose to learn more.
- The site performs well on all screens (non-negotiable).
- Pages comply with ADA and website accessibility best practices.
- Colors complement logos and imagery for visual interest.
- Text tells the brand story, with tone and personality cues.
- Visual elements break up the copy and create an “I want to be there” feeling.
- It’s easy to connect through social, events, user-generated content or contact forms.
Search Engine Ranking:
- Meta tags are used to help Google index your page content, making you more discoverable.
- You’ve got page-level performance reporting in place to improve your site traffic.
- Images and video are optimized for fast-loading, reducing bounce rate for visitors.
- Events listings feature basic details, a description, at least one photo, location, organizer and event website for indexing purposes.
- Business hours are updated on your website, Google My Business listing and Facebook Business Page.
- You’ve designed a press release template for industry notifications.
- A list of local and regional media contacts is receiving newsworthy updates related to your business and community involvement.
COVID-19 Impact: the pandemic made drinkers hesitant to visit a tasting room (if they were even open). So craft beverage producers scrambled to put together a retail strategy while bolstering their own ecommerce, delivery and curbside pickup options. We recommend doubling-down on a mobile-friendly website with online ordering capabilities; investing in Google AdWords to improve your search engine visibility; and sending out a press release at least quarterly to remain relevant with journalists and their readers.
- Does your website reflect your brand personality
- Setting up Google Console for page performance
- Achieving Google first page results
- 6 website tweaks to become more discoverable by mobile
- ADA and website accessibility
- Updating business hours in high-visibility areas
- Knowing when to refresh your homepage
- Checklist for brand content
- When a craft beverage brand is newsworthy
are you building engagement
Your craft beverage needs fresh and engaging content to attract new customers. It’s time to tell stories about your brand, giving drinkers a reason to choose you over competitors:
- Lifestyle photos help guests see themselves enjoying a visit to your tasting room.
- A virtual facility tour lets visitors know what to expect when they visit.
- Product reviews are collected and displayed.
- Homepage features a social feed and links to social channels for sharing.
- Real-time dialogue is possible through Facebook Messenger or other chat application.
- Site features an About Us section (customer-focused) separate from Our Team (internally-focused).
- All events are captured in a single calendar display, accessible by top-level navigation.
- A reservation feature allows guests to secure their spot in the tasting room.
- Personal and business profiles are separate.
- The team leverages a social listening, publishing and reporting tool to learn from fans/followers.
- Multiple users are trained/authorized to post in real-time.
- Content calendars are based on what customers want to see.
- Messaging is scheduled or posted when most users are online.
- Tools for targeting and “boosting” social content are used strategically to build engagement.
- Users are encouraged to submit content.
- Posts use 2-4 appropriate hashtags.
COVID-19 Impact: improving weather and relaxing mask mandates both should fuel customers returning to your tasting room for a drink. Set their expectations in advance of their visit with a virtual tour or updated photos of your facility. Listen closely to social media and commit to responding to customer inquiries in a timely fashion. Continue to offer a reservation system for improved guest satisfaction.
- Websites encourage digital discovery
- 4 areas of the website that attract new customers
- Using calendars effectively
- Social media best practices
- Are you listening and posting on social
- Getting the most out of Instagram business profiles
- Addressing a shortfall in social engagement
- Leveraging reservation systems
are you capturing new sales
Once they’re interested in your brand, it’s time to ask new customers for their business. Use high-impact media like your website and email to help secure the sale:
- Product catalog is up-to-date and pages use sensory and other data points to create interest.
- Site features a “Buy Now” ecommerce option or product locator functionality.
- It’s possible to organize a private or group event, either online or in-person.
- The tasting room is fresh, relevant and inviting to new guests.
- Your brand story evokes an emotional, gut-level response.
- It’s clear why a customer should care about your product/business.
- You’re still relatable internally with employees and externally with the industry and consumers.
- New audience members are being reached with paid advertising, amplifying successful messaging on social and digital channels.
- Email is captured for new product releases, events, newsletters and other notifications.
- An email service provider, like MailChimp, is used for broadcast email design and delivery.
- Templates are responsive for viewing on any device.
- Email is always sent in compliance with CAN-SPAM guidelines.
- List hygiene is conducted at least quarterly to improve email campaign performance.
- Tracking and reporting are part of a broader, monthly review of marketing efforts.
COVID-19 Impact: more than ever, brands have to make it easy for new and existing customers to say yes: to a new craft beverage, to an event, to visiting your tasting room. The fastest path to yes is transparency and clear calls-to-action, prompting immediate response. Do everything possible to help drinkers get your product in their hands. And when you find the right message or tactic that works, spend money to reach new audience members who will respond similarly.
- Brand marketing tools for craft beverage
- Using video to attract more sales
- How remarkable is your brand story
- Choosing to rebrand
- Practical marketing plans for craft beverage
- Health check for craft beverage
- Promote your event space
- Staging your business for new customers
- Brand story – sharing your superpower
- Asking customers to opt-in to email marketing
- Email: a step-by-step guide to immediate action